Obama’s New Climate Regs On Big Rigs Seen As Just Another Form Of Cronyism

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The Obama administration’s new climate rules for trucking companies are raising concerns regulations are throttling small companies while helping their bigger competitors.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with aid from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced Tuesday changes to fuel emission standards for work trucks, vans and over-the-road semi-trucks under the guise of fighting global warming.

The costs for trucking companies vary based on the type of truck and its size. The prices for a big-rig, for instance, will likely increase by as much as $15,100 within the next decade, according to analysis by the Washington Examiner. That’s an increase of about $1,000 per truck from the original proposal. The costs will be steep, whatever the variation.

The rules are striking a raw cord with some analysts in the energy industry.

“Heavy trucks are run by businesses that understand better than federal bureaucrats the trade offs involved with hiking fuel economy,” Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the Institute Energy Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Simmons added that the new regulations, created through a top-down approach, essentially allow bureaucrats and government meddlers to wiggle their way inside an industry. Once there, the government then can, whether purposely or inadvertently, give an unfair advantage to bigger businesses.

He added: “The fact that some businesses support these regulations suggests that these businesses want to curry favor with the federal government and because it’s likely they make out better with the regulations than their smaller competitors.”

Yet, many of the largest manufacturers and trucks fleet operators in the country are praising the new regulations, such as engine maker Cummins and heavy-duty truck owners Waste Management and Pepsi Co.

“[W]e are well-positioned to develop products that comply with this new rule and meet our customers’ needs,” Srikanth Padmanabhan, the president of Cummins Inc., said in a press statement expressing support for the regulations.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the American Truck Dealers, representing about 2,000 heavy-duty truck dealerships, told reporters that the group is “concerned with the possibility that compliance will prove too complex or expensive for the market [dealer customers] to accept without disruption.”

Congress, perhaps noting the possibility the new rules could actually help monopolize the trucking industry, decided Thursday to direct the EPA to allow smaller trucking companies and those lacking the technology to comply with the rule to buy their way out.

The EPA promptly shoehorned a complicated series of stipulations allowing U.S. trucking companies to pay fines if they are unable to comply with the regulators’ increasingly complicated rules.

Similar situations have cropped up in other aspects of the energy industry, particularly regarding the interplay between the coal and oil industries.

Major oil company ExxonMobil, for instance, has given piecemeal pro-carbon tax arguments in the past, though it’s currently ramping up its call for the tax.

In fact, ten of the world’s largest oil companies – BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total, among others — acknowledged in a letter to U.N. climate official Christiana Figueres in 2015, they are joining an initiative calling for carbon pricing. Most of the signers are international companies.

Conservative activist and Ohio’s former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell mirrored some of Simmons’ sentiments in January, writing in an editorial with the Washington Times that Exxon’s carbon tax push is nothing short of “crony capitalism,” wherein large companies use government regulations to throttle their competitors.

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